By Joe Mahoney The Daily Star
---- — Six companies involved in administering health care services have expressed interest in acquiring the 174-bed Otsego Manor nursing home, the chairwoman of the panel coordinating the effort to privatize the facility said Monday.
The half dozen proposals were forwarded to the Otsego County Health Facilities Corporation (HFC) in response to a request for proposals issued two weeks ago, said Rep. Katherine Stuligross, D-Oneonta.
She declined to identify the companies that are interested in purchasing the Manor.
County officials decided to sell the nursing home last year, contending county government could no longer afford the multi-million-dollar public subsidies the home would require year after year.
“Things are moving ahead very well,” Stuligross said. “We had been told to expect four proposals so this is more than we anticipated.”
Additional proposals could still be en route to the committee because the deadline for submissions is not until Sept. 27, she said.
Representatives of one New Jersey-based company that has submitted a proposal to the HFC toured the Manor last Thursday and appeared to be impressed with the facility, Stuligross said.
Stuligross, who is also the chairwoman of the county’s Manor Committee, said the HFC directors will rate the proposals based on a scoring system that the corporation’s board members will devise. The corporation is scheduled to meet today at 3:30 p.m. at the Manor.
The request for proposals states that the HFC “reserves the right to contact any potential proposers with follow-up questions as needed to clarify our understanding of the proposals.” The candidates deemed “most qualified” will face a “second phase” of review, which will include on-site visits by HFC directors to health care properties that the candidates operate.
The union representing Otsego County’s public employees, the Civil Service Employees Association, has raised strong objections to the attempt to privatize the nursing home, arguing that the quality of care will decline once the home is no longer run by the county.
While the union has said it was looking into the possibility of filing a lawsuit aimed at derailing the sale, Stuligross noted no litigation has been commenced by CSEA. She said the union has brought three legal claims against other counties trying to sell their nursing homes and all have been thrown out in the courts.
A CSEA representative said the union continues to weigh its options.
The HFC explained in its request for proposals that it will not necessarily sell the Manor to the highest bidder because it is placing a “high priority” on a demonstrated ability to provide “high quality services” to the home’s residents.
The county board voted in January to contract with the Center for Governmental Research to serve as its consultant in the development and marketing of the Manor.